More Locals at COP15

Austinites learn from Copenhagen

Maurine Winkley, Niyanta Spelman, and environmental activist Jake Stewart (all from Austin) pose under the Hopenhagen Alive globe in Copenhagen
Maurine Winkley, Niyanta Spelman, and environmental activist Jake Stewart (all from Austin) pose under the Hopenhagen Alive globe in Copenhagen (Photo courtesy of Niyanta Spelman)

While all eyes are on the COP15 international climate summit in Denmark, several Austinites are actually in Copenhagen participating, including Niyanta Spelman, executive director of the Rainfor­est Partnership; her director of operations, Maurine Winkley; and environmental activist Scott Johnson.

Spelman, who is married to Council Member Bill Spelman, founded the Rainforest Partnership – Austin’s only international nonprofit dedicated to climate action – because she believes, “We in the U.S. need to recognize the global implications of the choices we make.” The group works on creating mechanisms for the conservation and sustainable use of rainforests in Central and South America.

At COP15, she’s been attending discussions on Reducing Emissions From Deforest­a­tion and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries – an effort otherwise known more simply as REDD. According to, it is an attempt “to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development.” Spelman is posting accounts about REDD to her blog.

Environmental activist Scott Johnson is attending COP15 to network with U.S. and international NGOs. He hopes to learn how they are “persuading their countries' summit delegates about the multiple threats of more severe drought, storms and the future displacement of coastal population centers.” To read about other local involvement in the conference, see “Austin@COP15,” Dec. 11.

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climate protection, Learning from Copenhagen, Niyanta Spelman, Scott Johnson, Rainforest Partnership, COP15

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